Middleport Council discusses projects

MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Village Council met in regular session this week to discuss future projects.

Present during the meeting were council members Shawn Arnott, Brian Conde, Larry Byer, Matt Lyons, Susan Page and Ben Reed. Also present were Fiscal Officer Susan Baker, Assistant Fiscal Officer Margie Baker-Keilitz, Village Administrator Joe Woodall, Building Inspector Mike Hendrickson, Supervisor Joe Powell and Village Attorney Richard Hedges.

Minutes of the March 14 meeting were approved unanimously, along with the payment of current bills.

Hoffman said last year, a gentleman from the health department met with council and discussed projects at Hartinger Park, which they may be able to fund. Becky Zuspan, who has taken over that position, was introduced to council. Zuspan discussed the project which included paving the roadway into the park and then a paved walkway to the basketball court area. She said she had an estimate from Myers Paving for the project and anticipated having it completed by early July. The project was being entirely paid for by a program within the Meigs County Health Department. Both Hoffman and council expressed their appreciation to Zuspan for these improvements.

Hoffman said due to several things he had learned about financing capabilities, he did not sign the contract with Burgess and Niple on the sewer extension design. He said maybe, at some time in the future, if additional grant funds become available, this project could be pursued.

Hoffman said he had submitted a request to Rep. Edwards for $40,000 for playground equipment through the State Capital Budget.

Hoffman said he and Hendrickson had attended the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) informational meeting last week at the courthouse and felt there were a lot of possibilities there for projects to be considered by the village. Hoffman said applications for projects will need to be turned in by May 1 and that he and Hendrickson will be working on projects that council may want to submit.

Hoffman said he submitted the village request to the Ohio Department of Development to establish the Community Reinvestment Area, and was given a list of various things need to be prepared and submitted before approval is given. He said with Hendrickson’s help, he was working on these and the effective date of the program will not be until everything is approved by the Ohio Department of Development.

Hoffman provided council with information about the USDA grant/loan project for a new police cruiser and a street sweeper. “This project, when submitted, was for the purchase of a street sweeper at $112,714 and a police cruiser at a cost of $46,206. Total project cost was $166,000. It was anticipated that we could receive a $100,000 grant and a $66,000 loan,” Hoffman said. “After USDA looked at our finances, they decided to offer us a $50,000 grant and a $116,000 loan at 2.1250% interest. I still think this is a good deal but I told USDA that I could not sign off on it without council approval since it was different than the original application. At 2.1250% interest rate, the monthly payment would be approximately $1,073.86 per month or approximately $12,886 per year. If we proceed I would suggest that the payment be divided between the water, sewer, refuse, and street since they all would benefit. This would amount to approximately $269 per month or approximately $3222 per year from each of the funds.”

There was some discussion about a backhoe, which was also needed. Hoffman said Woodall had submitted this application for the sweeper and police vehicle at some point last year and tentative approval was just now given. Hoffman said it was just approval or not approval, by council, right now and the project could not be changed without going through the process again. After a lengthy discussion, council voted 4-2 to proceed with the grant/loan through USDA, with Brian Conde and Susan Page voting no.

Fiscal Officer Susan Baker stated the property and liability insurance were due for renewal. After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed to renew the policy.

Powell briefly discussed the village backhoe and said it was over 20-years-old, in very poor condition and needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

Woodall submitted his resignation with his last day to be April 15. He expressed his thanks to everyone for their cooperation and help during the years which he had been village administrator. Everyone thanked Woodall for all his work and for the many millions of dollars he had obtained for both water and sewer improvements in the village. He said he would be working to help Andy Blank learn the particulars of the water reporting processes and would assist in any way he could. He also said he would be available until Sept. 15 if needed to assist with the sewage reporting until the village is able to secure a full-time certified sewage operator.

Hendrickson said due to circumstances that have occurred elsewhere for the past several years, he made the recommendation that council consider eliminating the landlord inspection process next year. Conde inquired if anyone would suffer from this. Hendrickson said he did not think so because some tenants still usually call him if there is a problem with a landlord. He said some communities had done away with this program and that the inspections were voluntary. Hoffman suggested council consider this with possible action at a later date.

Byer said the Middleport High School group, which had been responsible for the trophy case project, had several thousand dollars left over and would like to make some other additions along the hallway walls and use the rest of the funds. Council had no objections to this and approved the project.

Conde said the piece of equipment for Hartinger Park is now being manufactured and would probably be installed in early July. He also said the handicapped park was on hold waiting for advice from the insurance company.

Reed informed council of a cat control program, which had been in operation in Athens County and was wondering if anyone was interested in pursuing such a program in Middleport. He said the Athens County Humane Society could be interested in what is called a Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) program. Essentially, village residents would have the option to capture stray cats, take them to the Athens County Humane Society to be neutered, and released back in Middleport. The village residents would be responsible for watching the cat for 48 hours before the cat would then be released. The surgeries would be offered at a discounted rate and the person who brings the cat would be responsible for the bill, unless it would be something the village would want to pay for on behalf of the residents. He stated that if interest was there, he would discuss the project further with the vet this weekend and present it at the next council meeting.

Lyons said he noticed the village had been able to purchase a new truck and felt it looked good. He also said he felt the Meigs Museum building which had collapsed needed to be more secured to keep people away. Hendrickson stated that he was getting an estimate for them from Hutton on tearing down all or part of the building and was trying to get a portion of it funded with funds, which have been allocated to the Land Bank.

A motion was made to move into executive session to discuss personnel. Upon returning into regular session, after a short discussion, a motion was made and unanimously approved to promote Andy Blank to Chief Water Operator upon the departure of Joe Woodall at a salary of $26 per hour and that an additional $400 per month be paid to Blank for the overseeing of the Syracuse water system.

Council adjourned with the next regular meeting of council scheduled at 7 p.m. on April 11.

Information submitted by Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman.